How Do Tooth Fillings Work?

posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 3/22/2022 in General

woman sitting in dental chair as dentist prepares to examine her cavity

Nervous about tooth fillings? Knowledge is power. The more you know, the less scared you’ll feel. A tooth filling is a common procedure to fill cavities or other damaged-related holes in your teeth. It’s a simple 60-minute process that will strengthen your teeth and prevent further decay. 

What Are Tooth Fillings?

As the name suggests, a tooth filling is used to fill holes in your tooth. A filling can be made of gold, plastic, metals, or porcelain. Just like a dental crown, a tooth filling hides damaged-looking teeth so your smile can stay beautiful.  

When Do You Need a Tooth Filling? 

If your tooth has holes, is decaying, damaged, or eroded, your dentist may recommend a tooth filling. A filling restores the shape of your tooth and helps prevent damage from getting worse. The most common reason for tooth fillings is cavities, but there are other dental issues where tooth fillings can be a good solution. 

Dental Cavities 

If you’re experiencing a toothache it may be because of a cavity. When cavities go untreated for long periods of time, your teeth decay. Sometimes the decay is visible, sometimes it’s not. Either way, your dentist will do a thorough examination and confirm if a tooth filling is needed. 

Damaged Teeth

If you have fractured, broken, or damaged teeth, getting a filling is a good option to restore your smile. Discuss with your dentist if a filling is an appropriate option for you. Many patients also choose dental implants or veneers to replace their broken teeth.

Types of Tooth Fillings

When it comes to fillings, there are lots of different materials dentists use. You can choose from natural, silver, or even gold fillings. Ask your dentist what type of filling will be best for you. Your available choices will depend on the tooth’s location and cavity size. 

Tooth-Colored Fillings 

Also known as composite resin fillings, tooth-colored fillings are a popular choice if you want your fillings to blend in with your teeth. Unlike metal fillings, your friends won’t be able to tell you recently got your tooth filled. These fillings are best for small to medium-sized teeth that don’t exert strong pressure when chewing. Composite resin is not as durable as other filling materials. If you need to fill molars or another tooth type, your dentist may recommend a different filling. 

Silver-Colored Fillings 

When you think of tooth fillings, you probably picture metal fillings. The official name for this type of filling is dental amalgam. It’s more durable and less expensive than composite resin fillings. This is the best option for teeth in the back of your mouth. They’re more involved in the chewing process and benefit from added strength. These filings are also great for larger cavities.  

Other Fillings 

If you don’t want composite resin or silver fillings, you can sometimes opt to get gold fillings. Surprisingly, gold fillings are not a new option. They’ve actually been used by dentists for decades. They can often provide a high level of durability and fit the tooth very accurately. Talk to your dentist to see if gold fillings are a viable option for you.  

Tooth Filling Procedure 

If the idea of getting a tooth filling is scaring you, don’t worry. The procedure is simple and quick. To give you a better understanding of what happens, here’s a step-by-step process of what your dentist will do. 

  1. Numb tooth: Your dentist will desensitize the tooth and surrounding area so you won’t feel anything during the procedure.
  2. Remove cavity (if necessary): If a cavity is present your dentist will use a specialized tool to remove the cavity or decay and create a clean surface for the filling.
  3. Add filling: Once the tooth is cleaned, the filling (made from material of your choice) is added into the tooth. 
  4. Polish and adjust: Once the filling is in, it’s hardened and polished for a long-lasting effect. 

Tooth Filling Services at Kimball & Beecher

The dentists at Kimball and Beecher understand tooth filling procedures can be nerve-racking. They’re gentle and patient throughout the process. You can rest easy while they complete the filling at any of our offices across Iowa.

If your tooth is hurting or feels sensitive you may be in need of an immediate tooth filling. Contact your local Kimball & Beecher dental office to schedule an appointment today. 

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

Get the smile you've always wantedSchedule an Appointment